Central Italy’s most important wine region—and the country’s sixth-largest wine-producing region, Tuscany produces a diverse selection of internationally recognized wines from both indigenous and international varieties.
Tuscany stretches from the Tyrrhenian coastline inland toward the Apennine Mountains, with multiple elevations, expositions, soil types, and climatic conditions.
The main wine-growing areas of Tuscany include:
The Tuscan coast
More than half of Tuscany’s hillside vineyards are planted with Sangiovese grapes. Historically, the region is known for its production of Chianti. In fact, the Chianti zone is the oldest appellation in the region.
Geographical sub-appellations of the Chianti zone include:
Chianti Colli Senesi
Chianti Colli Fiorentini
These sub-appellations may be featured on Chianti wine labels. Chianti Classico and Chianti Rufina are some of the most distinctive wines coming out of the Chianti area.
Sangiovese is the star grape of the Tuscany wine regions as it is widely cultivated. The wines must be mostly made from Sangiovese, a small percentage of additional varieties may be used. While in the past even white varieties were added to Chianti wines, today it mostly involves local varieties like Colorino or Canaiolo Nero or international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, which are added in small amounts.
Tuscany is known for Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is made near the hill town of Montepulciano. These wines show similar characteristics as Chianti Riservas. Another Sangiovese-based wine, Brunello di Montalcino is a world-class red which is considered one of Italy’s finest and most age-worthy wines made with 100 per cent Sangiovese grapes.
The region’s other most significant red wines are the famed Super Tuscans from their heartland, Bolgheri and Bolgheri Sassicaia, which have recently received DOCs denominations, which means they’re generally high- to very high-quality wines. A local take on the classic Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah (and sometimes Cabernet Franc), these wines were developed, in part, as a reaction to the restrictive regulations in Tuscany during the 1970s. At the time they emerged, they were considered some of the region’s best reds.
Super Tuscans may be made from a single variety like Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon, or a blend of some combination of these grapes and others, including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and Alicante (Grenache).
But Tuscany isn’t just a red-wine-producing region. There are a number of white wines to be explored, including those made from Trebbiano, Vernaccia, and Vermentino. The region is also known for its dessert wine, Vin Santo, which is made from native varieties (usually white, but sometimes Sangiovese is used) and traditionally served with almond biscotti.
Organic and biodynamic wine practices continue to trend around the world, particularly in Europe. Tuscans are among the wine producers that are increasingly embracing sustainable, organic and biodynamic wine practices in the vineyards and the cellar. The focus on native grapes and terroir-driven wines is also on the rise, both globally and in this region.